When writing work instructions, you get points for clarity, not style. Instead of waxing lyrical about the customer journey and decisive moments, just make your point. Here are eight ways to do that:
Use a clear heading to explain the task
If you can’t explain the task succinctly what chance do people following the instructions have?
One task per paragraph
Mills and Boon might put several complex emotions and actions in a paragraph but when writing instructions limit the action to one point per paragraph. When you have another task, instruction or issue, start a new paragraph.
Put any notes or warnings in the first sentence
Don’t let your readers follow the instructions blindly only to find out they have missed a crucial step or made a major blunder. If somebody needs to hold the ladder, don’t point that out when the reader gets to the top.
Make it scan-able
Few, (if any), people read every word in an instruction manual. Use headers and bullet points so that your audience can quickly scan and understand the salient points.
Write the whole thing down
Describe the operation from start to end. If the order is important use a numbered list. Tell the reader when the task is complete. Don’t leave them thinking “now what?”
Answer the five basic questions
Who does what, where, when and how?
Keep a revision history
The point of writing work instructions is to get everybody to follow the same process. Unless you want chaos to rule it is important to know which version everybody is using (dull but true).
Test them out
Get somebody who has never completed the task to follow the work. Were they able to do what was intended? If they couldn’t the problem is invariably with the writer, not the reader.
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